Red Tailed Catfish Care – Must-Know Tips And Tricks For Everyone

A red-tailed catfish is not something commonly found in home tanks. Due to their massive size and voracious eating habits, these animals are mostly confined to large aquariums only.

Given the limited number of aquarists caring about catfish, it is no wonder why information about them is rather scant.

In case you intend on taking in one and are yet to know about red-tailed catfish care, scroll down and see the most useful tips and tricks offered by our experts!

Red-Tailed Catfish Care – 4 Factors To Pay Attention

Tank size

Red-Tailed Catfish

A typical red-tailed catfish can be 3 to 4 feet in length. Since they are enormous, you cannot possibly put one into a standard 10 or 20-gallon tank. Instead, a tank with a capacity of up to 2000 gallons is required.

You can make do with a smaller tank of roughly 1500 gallons, though it means that your fish will find itself being cramped and uncomfortable.

Now, it is obvious that most amateur aquarists fail to get such a tank. But some of them are still adamant to take in a red-tailed catfish. “Can I use a 1000-gallon tank?”, they might ask.

Unfortunately, the answer is no. If the space given to these animals is too tiny, your fish’s stress levels will soon spike, leading to an overall decrease in their well-being.

Water conditions

Red-tailed catfish are among the easiest to adapt once transferred to a new environment. That said, you still have to pay attention to the water conditions. Mimicking their natural habitat is the best way to ensure the quality of a catfish’s tank.

Firstly, make sure the temperature is relatively warm. Ideally, it should not fall outside of 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. As red-tailed catfish are native to most Southern American countries, they do not deal well with coldness. Hence, maintaining a certain level of heat is crucial to their health.

Secondly, remember to keep the pH level below 7. Admittedly, it can be challenging trying to stabilize the pH level of such a large tank. Thus, you can tolerate a disparity of roughly 0.5.

Thirdly, do not forget to get rid of waste buildup regularly. Red-tailed catfish are big and they do not shy away from consuming food and excreting. If you leave their feces accumulated, the tank will soon be dirty and unhealthy.


Red-tailed catfish are not particularly picky when it comes to lighting. They do not feel the need to establish a sleeping routine, nor do they need lots of lighting to thrive.

Therefore, you do not need to invest much besides a standard aquarium tank. In case you cannot afford one, placing your aquarium somewhere near a source of natural light will suffice.

Tank setup

Unlike smaller fish who need lots of hiding places and playgrounds, red-tailed catfish are fine on their own. Few animals can pose an actual threat to these animals, which means they can swim around without worrying about their safety.

Due to these tendencies, a tank with a few rocks and driftwood should be enough.

Furthermore, minimizing the decor put inside a red-tailed catfish tank also eliminates potential obstacles to their daily swimming routines. The busier your tank is, the higher chance a red-tailed catfish will knock things over.

What You Need To Know About Red-tailed Catfish

Red-tailed catfish growth rate

Red-tailed catfish growth rate

Red-tailed catfish grow at a neck-breaking speed. Every week, their length will increase by one inch even if you give them a minimal amount of food. If fed properly, catfish can easily grow by 1.5 inches per week.

Lucky you, most captivated catfish do not grow more than 4 feet. In nature, expect them to be at least 5 to 6 feet long.

Red-tailed catfish food

Red-tailed catfish could not care less about their diets. They will eat anything fed to them, which leads many aquarists to the assumption that they can be reckless regarding their meals.

For catfish to live a long and healthy life, a balanced diet is a must.

If you are looking for protein-based diets, minced meat, shrimps, worms, insects and smaller fish are the best choices.

Both live and frozen food will do the job. As for plant matter, catfish will do well with common underwater vegetation.

In case you are looking for an easy way, pellet foods are a feasible alternative. Make sure you purchase sinking pellets so they can find their way down to the bottom of the tank.

Red-tailed catfish lifespan

On average, a red-tailed catfish can live up to 15 years.

But you will be surprised to learn that this is not the longest duration a catfish can survive. When transferred into a tank, catfish tend to suffer from a lack of care and attention by inexperienced aquarists.

On the other hand, catfish living in the wild enjoy a much longer lifespan. This is because they can move from one place to another effortlessly, reducing the risks of being cramped and stressed out.

Red-tailed catfish breeding

Female catfish lay eggs and male counterparts come over to fertilize these eggs.

While this process is quite easy, you are advised to prevent breeding in your home tanks. Chances are your tanks will not be spacious enough for the presence of more than two catfish, let alone their offspring.

Furthermore, catfish are not known for their peaceful temperament toward their offspring. If left within the same space with their fry, nothing stops catfish from feeding on smaller ones.


Learning about red-tailed catfish care is one thing, applying the knowledge to real-life situations is another. Now that you know about their habits, make sure to keep your catfish comfortable by meeting all of their needs!